He might not be that into you… but I’ll bet he’s into (promotional) product placement

In yesterday’s blog post, Jaime broke down the average cost per impression of a 30 second Super Bowl commercial versus that of a promotional product giveaway. This analysis contains undeniably valuable information regarding return on investment, yet some companies might not have to choose between promotional products and television advertising after all, thanks to increasingly popular product placements in film.

Product placement is nothing new. In the 1950s, prominent soap manufacturers such as Proctor & Gamble and Unilever sponsored the dramatic television shows that we now refer to as soap operas. However, as traditional television advertising has lost effectiveness over the past decade, more and more companies are utilizing “branded entertainment” by placing their name in both television shows and movies.

In Cast Away, Tom Hanks plays a FedEx manager who utilizes the contents of his packages to survive after becoming stranded on a deserted island. During an episode of FRIENDS, two of the main characters spend an entire day trying to recreate the beloved Nestle Tollhouse cookie recipe. And, most loyal viewers of The Office know that Staples is Dunder Mifflin’s biggest competitor. The point is that product placement is often hard to miss.

Promotional product placement, on the other hand, has a much less intrusive nature. I was watching the 2009 blockbuster He’s Just Not that Into You for the umpteenth time last week when my industry-trained eye noticed something new. As an attempt to run into a boy she likes, the main character Gigi cites the need to return the boy’s pen. She shows up at his friend’s bar and pulls out- not just any old pen- but a promotional pen… and so a new love story begins.

I won’t give away the rest of the story, but let’s just say that things turn out well for “the girl with the dentist pen,” as Gigi refers to herself later in the film. Due to the movie’s success, I’m guessing it was a happy ending for the showcased brands as well.

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1 comment

The Stuff You Should Know guys had a very funny podcast about product placement. And I just thought of another — the Swingline staple from Office Space. This is a fun game.

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